OFF-eNET: An optimally fused fully end-to-end network for automatic dense volumetric 3D intracranial blood vessels segmentation

Anam Nazir, Muhammad Nadeem Cheema, Bin Sheng, Huating Li, Ping Li, Po Yang, Younhyun Jung, Jing Qin, Jinman Kim, David Dagan Feng

Research output: Journal article publicationJournal articleAcademic researchpeer-review

35 Citations (Scopus)


Intracranial blood vessels segmentation from computed tomography angiography (CTA) volumes is a promising biomarker for diagnosis and therapeutic treatment in cerebrovascular diseases. These segmentation outputs are a fundamental requirement in the development of automated decision support systems for preoperative assessment or intraoperative guidance in neuropathology. The state-of-the-art in medical image segmentation methods are reliant on deep learning architectures based on convolutional neural networks. However, despite their popularity, there is a research gap in the current deep learning architectures optimized to address the technical challenges in blood vessel segmentation. These challenges include: (i) the extraction of concrete brain vessels close to the skull; and (ii) the precise marking of the vessel locations. We propose an Optimally Fused Fully end-to-end Network (OFF-eNET) for automatic segmentation of the volumetric 3D intracranial vascular structures. OFF-eNET comprises of three modules. In the first module, we exploit the up-skip connections to enhance information flow, and dilated convolution for detailed preservation of spatial feature map that are designed for thin blood vessels. In the second module, we employ residual mapping along with inception module for speedy network convergence and richer visual representation. For the third module, we make use of the transferred knowledge in the form of cascaded training strategy to gradually optimize the three segmentation stages (basic, complete, and enhanced) to segment thin vessels located close to the skull. All these modules are designed to be computationally efficient. Our OFF-eNET, evaluated using 70 CTA image volumes, resulted in 90.75% performance in the segmentation of intracranial blood vessels and outperformed the state-of-the-art counterparts.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)7192-7202
Number of pages11
JournalIEEE Transactions on Image Processing
Publication statusPublished - Jul 2020


  • computed tomography angiography
  • Convolution neural network
  • dilated convolution
  • inception module
  • intracranial vessels segmentation
  • up-skip connection

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Software
  • Computer Graphics and Computer-Aided Design


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